Where are you from?
Our roots are undeniably part of our story.
Home for me is, and always has been, Indiana, even though I’ve held a secret wish I was from somewhere else. A more edgy local, nearer to the mountains or a beach, maybe even a large metropolis. Somewhere you don’t have to be reminded, There’s more than corn in Indiana.
Indiana doesn’t seem to have a particularly fascinating or unique footprint in American culture. We’re easy to not know much about. I have met several folks who don’t know where we sit geographically. We have no Grand Canyon or Times Square.
We don’t often make National news, but when we do, it’s not typically something for which to be proud.
I Googled, “TV shows and movies set in Indiana” and found this paragraph in explanation to why a show might select Indiana as its setting:
“The shows want a setting that typifies how-mainly conservative-regular folks live in the rural or small town US.”
It goes on to explain that actors don’t have to speak with a southern accent and we don’t have the cultural baggage of the South.
We’re just regular, I guess.
We’re “Mainly” Conservative
Politically speaking, Indiana is way too conservative for me. But I’m here to tell you we have a contingent of those who are not, and I cherish my small-but-beautiful pod of like-minded folks with whom I can talk openly about my beliefs, values, and opinions without opening a huge whip-ass can of debate. Mostly, I just talk about other things.
The change of seasons here is lovely and greatly appreciated. We deserve the breath-taking red and golden leaves after weeks of hot, sticky humidity that finds us taking two showers a day and hiding in air conditioning. Indiana Gray winters serve as impetus for the great migration toward sunshine. And then we celebrate our first few sunny days of Spring and worship our daffodils. Truly, Spring and Fall are our gifts.
Here’s the thing about the middle. We live in neighborhoods with lots of nice people. Neighborhoods that host free concerts and invite little kids to climb on the fire trucks and meet our police. We enjoy an abundance of Pickleball courts and good schools, and family-owned restaurants.
Recently, I returned from a two week stay in another town and I was taken aback at how fellow shoppers in my Fresh Thyme made eye contact and smiled. We greeted one another and made space for others to get around us in the aisle. This does not happen everywhere.
In my neighborhood, we burn fires in fire pits, have chickens, park campers in our driveways, pay no association fees, and can walk to dinner at restaurants owned by friends. We have an Easter Egg Hunt and welcome Trick-or-Treaters. We host pitch-ins and weiner roasts and borrow cumin from next door.
We are safe here. We are friendly. We lend each other a hand. We show up for graduation open houses and raise funds for those in need. We share vegetables from our gardens and walk to the Saturday Farmer’s Market. We meet for Book Club.
Out of town? Someone will glady drag your trash cans up the driveway and water your flowers.
Top Tier Sharing
Recently, one of our neighbors enthusiastically loaned us their lake house for a long weekend where we hosted friends from Michigan with whom we meet once a year. How does one say thank you for the gift of sitting for hours, catching up with dear friends over a pot of coffee, surrounded by this view.
In my life, right here in the middle of humdrum Indiana, I’ve lived in three neighborhoods where I’ve been blessed with deep, lasting connections. People who have shaped my memories, cried with me at my parent’s funerals, and give hugs when we chance-meet in Meijer. I’m afraid I take this for granted.
When we travel, I’m rarely ready to return home. I think that’s because I connect home with pulling weeds and other not so fun responsibilities. But for this Summer and Fall seasons at home in Indiana, I’ve made a commitment to be present. Be here. Enjoy home and my community. To take a moment to appreciate why this is still home.
To stop and appreciate why life in the middle is okay. Better than okay. It’s where I’m from.